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Linux On The Microsoft Surface Won't Be Easy

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  • #11
    Originally posted by sandy8925 View Post
    This confirms our worst fears: that you cannot install Linux based distros except maybe with extreme difficulty on such devices. And this is in fact an anti-competitive move by Microsoft.
    It's hardly anti-competitive at a device level, since they'll be making their money off you by just buying the hardware, independent of the OS on it. One might argue that they don't want to lose the Windows Store royalties; I don't know what those are, how significant they will be for Microsoft, etc. That could be, but then, if they're subsidizing the hardware at all (given the outcry from other vendors over how cheap Microsoft was making their initial Surface hardware, this seems likely) it's hard to fault Microsoft for not wanting to give you subsidized hardware that won't make them money back.

    It's also for DRM purposes, I'd imagine. Rooted Android tablets (and to a lesser extent, rooted iPads) are considered a major problem by many software developers. Microsoft said, "no worries, bro, we gots your back." Rooting the Surface -- and hence bypassing the DRM -- is not going to be easy, and hence application developers on Windows 8 RT can rely on their users being legitimate paying customers. Same goes for any media DRM.

    The other part is protecting these simplified devices from certain classes of malware, which does exist in the wild for rooted iPad and Android devices, I might note. The people who want SecureBoot to outright disappear are absolutely retarded. Demanding that you have some means to control it if you own the device is very reasonable, but asking that the world do without legitimate security protections entirely because you're afraid some hardware vendors will be mean is silly.

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    • #12
      There is a simple solution

      Don't Buy Surface!

      My goal is not to give any money to MS, so why on Earth would I consider buying MS-specific hardware in the first place?

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      • #13
        Originally posted by chrisr View Post
        Don't Buy Surface!

        My goal is not to give any money to MS, so why on Earth would I consider buying MS-specific hardware in the first place?
        Pretty much. Same goes to those fools who buy Mac hardware to run linux on it. You've already given Apple your money, you're advertising their hardware with their obnoxious glowing logo on the lid and no-one will care that you're running Ubuntu/Fedora/whatever on it. You've already helped subsidise the Apple legal team, so no-one cares that you've bypassed their UEFI bootloader and found drivers for their weird WIFI chip.

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        • #14
          Originally posted by chrisr View Post
          Don't Buy Surface!

          My goal is not to give any money to MS, so why on Earth would I consider buying MS-specific hardware in the first place?
          Same, I'm never buying a Microsoft product ever again. I also refuse to work on people's computer with Windows on it unless it means uninstalling it and putting another OS.

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          • #15
            Why ?

            Still using Desktop PCs , are there reasons to go to Surface or any Android/IOS tablet ?
            Is enjoying the commands way some kind of retrograde or old school ?

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            • #16
              As Matthew mentions in his post, loading Linux or any other operating system to this first-generation ARM-based Microsoft Surface tablet would likely involve finding a vulnerability within the device's firmware in order to execute arbitrary code.
              So flash the firmware with a replacement, it works for 'untrusted computing' and many androids. Don't we already have Linux based firmware on a wide range of hardwares that run Windows by default? Adapt one.

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              • #17
                Um hello? Microsoft specifically requires that any ARM device with Windows 8 certification, sold with Windows 8 should not allow the user to disable Secure Boot. So yeah, they are responsible for this. Sure, I could just avoid buying MS hardware - but any ARM based device sold with Windows 8 will most likely have the same restriction.

                Sure, a large number of devices already have this restriction, but here's yet another set of devices (not just Surface, but all ARM based tablets sold with Windows 8 - maybe as many as the number of iPads or Android tablets out there) that are being introduced. The problem is the attitude that some people in this thread seem to have - just avoid it. What when all devices are locked down in this way? There's no way to avoid it then. And don't tell me bullshit such as "if someone is determined enough, they'll find a way". That's fucking bullshit. You shouldn't have to scour for a security vulnerability in the firmware and OS kernels, when all you want to do is install software you want to use on a tablet you own.

                Also, it will be very difficult if not impossible for new people to try out a Linux distro (or even FreeBSD for that matter) if they have such a device. Consumers who don't know the technical details of a device will most likely not know the difference between an ARM and x86 based device. They might buy the ARM device if it's low cost, or maybe they have a subsidy through their university (for students). What when such people want to try out a Linux based distro? Not everyone has the money to go buy a new device whenever they feel like it. That device may be all they've got. What when someone is trying to research operating systems? They can't use anything but Windows. And they are stuck with it. They shouldn't have to be.

                So yeah, FUCK YOU Microsoft for forcing Windows upon people because you just don't know how to compete.

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                • #18
                  Originally posted by sandy8925 View Post
                  (not just Surface, but all ARM based tablets sold with Windows 8 - maybe as many as the number of iPads or Android tablets out there) that are being introduced.
                  MS's market share is in the single digits. Apple/Android tablets don't even consider them competition yet, they are so few.

                  Maybe in a few years things will be different, but given Microsoft's past record in this market i wouldn't count on it.

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                  • #19
                    The other side

                    WinRT is a renamed Windows phone 8 OS. 8! What about the programs for 1-7? What about the hardware running 1-7? None of those are compatible. They have the worst compatibility record of any tablet and bad ratings with users. So there's little risk of it getting popular. Windows Active Directory integration? Not exactly.

                    The only concern is if the Pro tablets (an Intel Atom with a detached keyboard) carry this into x86 land.

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